Sully's Blog

By Paul Herlihey

There were 9.4 seconds left on the clock and the Los Angeles Clippers led the Dallas Mavericks by nine points. To everyone’s surprise, Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers called timeout. 

In what is believed to be an unprecedented move, Rivers took the microphone from the scorer’s table and offered a brief tribute to Mavericks forward and NBA legend, Dirk Nowitzki, calling him, “One of the greatest of all time.” Rivers motioned to the crowd to join him and the Staples Center erupted in a standing ovation while teammates and opponents congratulated and embraced Nowitzki. He was visibly moved as he... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan and Paul Herlihey

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted eight new members in the Class of 2018 – seven with traditional speeches in Canton, Ohio and Terrell Owens doing his own thing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he starred in college.

At their essence, Hall of Fame speeches should be about gratitude.  Stories should be used to connect with the audience, make the speech memorable and to drive an authentic theme.  Closing with a call to action that inspires the viewer to take positive action is the ideal capper.

Length can be an issue. Remarks ranged from longtime general... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan and Abigail Dellapina

Recently, Facebook, Uber and Wells Fargo have each launched apology ad campaigns in order to address scandals the respective companies faced. A massive data breach and the overload of “fake news” hindered trust between Facebook and its users. Uber faced management scandals and sexual harassment claims that drove many customers to switch to its competitors. Last year Wells Fargo was sanctioned by federal regulators for creating millions of fake customer accounts and in April was fined $1 billion over mortgage and auto loan violations that resulted in some customers paying additional fees.

Millions of dollars have been spent on these campaigns, executed with print, digital,... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

The Catalyst // The George W. Bush Institute // Summer 2018

When we moved into our house in Florida in 2011, a neighbor welcomed us to the block by sending over a plate of delicious chocolate chip cookies. We were pleasantly surprised by their old-school act of kindness. Within a day or two, our kids went over to deliver a thank you note. No one answered, so they left the note on the door.

In the five years we lived there, we never had another interaction with them, and in fact never actually saw the people who sent the cookies.

Technology’s impact

This lack of contact with the people right down the block is commonplace according to surveys by the Pew Research Center. They show each year... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

Louis C.K. is wildy successful. He’s won six Emmys,  two Grammys and a Peabody.  His latest triumph comes on the big screen with his strong  reviews for voicing Max, a spoiled terrier, in the animated feature and No. 1 box office hit, “The Secret Life of Pets.”

In addition to his rep as a mega-talented comic/performer/writer/producer/director, C.K. has long been known for his creativity and sophistication in controlling and distributing his own content. After all, he began using his website to sell concert tickets and post-show video downloads as far back as 2001.

Despite his digital media savvy, C.K.... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

The recent Al Jazeera America report claiming human growth hormone had been shipped to Peyton Manning’s wife, Ashley, during his recovery from a neck injury in 2011 provides a new look into how the practice of journalism has changed.

Thanks to Manning’s success on the field and popular appearances in television commercials and on Saturday Night Live, he is one of America’s most well-known and well-liked superstars.  

“The bottom line is that athletes don't get the benefit of the doubt any more,” Michael McCarthy wrote in The Sporting... +Continue Reading


By Kathy Wyatt

Let’s talk about how you feel.

I read an article recently about the media phenomenon known as the “Talk About.”  It oftens happens postgame, when a reporter or broadcaster asks a player to “talk about your approach to tonight’s game.” Or, “talk about what happened in the third period.”  Talk about anything at all you want to, because apparently, I don’t have an actual question. 

Bryan Curtis, in an article at, refers to the “Talk About” as the worst question in sports.  Reflecting on my nearly two decades in the newsroom, I can match that with the worst... +Continue Reading


In Academy Awards show lore, 2015 will be remembered as the Year of the Memorable Acceptance Speech.  Sure, the merits of the Oscar winners will long be debated and Neil Patrick Harris’ performance as host will be critiqued right down to his tighty-whities.  But more than any year I can remember, multiple acceptance speeches were praised in real time on social media and are getting heavy post-Oscar night attention – and not just for the political positions espoused by a handful of the winners. 

The keys to a memorable two-minute speech are pretty simple:

•    Connect with energy, gratitude and humility
•    Make it personal by telling a story 
•    Leave the audience with a call to action or something meaningful to think about

Three winners in... +Continue Reading


The conversation this week around Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s uncooperative performance at Super Bowl Media Day – and his lecture to the media, again without answering questions two days later - has largely missed a key point.  

We’re told Lynch is uncomfortable speaking to the media, but by manufacturing his own media circus – not once, but twice – he created a dominant storyline about his conduct, (called “unprofessional” by ESPN analyst and two-time Super Bowl champion Tom Jackson) and, most importantly, took attention away from his well-deserving teammates. 

By grabbing headlines this week, Lynch:

•    Created a potential distraction for his teammates
•    Left his teammates... +Continue Reading


Donald Sterling is finished as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.  It’s simple: Players won’t play for him.  More than a dozen sponsors have already bolted in fast break fashion.  And fan boycotts will begin as soon as the playoffs end, if not sooner.

There is no crisis communications plan, no apology, no talking points that can repair the damage created by the reprehensible, racist comments attributed to him on the audio recording that went public last Saturday.

New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will do the right thing and come down as hard as league bylaws allow.  Expect there to be an indefinite suspension and removal from any involvement with the team along with the maximum $1 million fine.

The debate has shifted to a legal one and the experts seem to think NBA... +Continue Reading